Does closing all apps on your smartphone improve battery life? Android and iOS experts chime in

By Shawn Knight ยท 27 replies
Mar 14, 2016
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  1. Most semi-tech savvy smartphone users will tell you that closing all of the "open" apps on your device will lead to better battery life. As it turns out, the practice is little more than a common misconception according to Android and iOS experts.

    Quartz technology reporter Mike Murphy recently asked Hiroshi Lockheimer, SVP of Android, Chrome and Chrome OS, if closing apps on Android helped with battery life. Lockheimer replied earlier today, pointing out that Android is optimized for managing what's running and that messing with it would just cause more "thrash."

    Thrash, in the context of storage, refers to overworking a storage medium by excessively moving information between a device's physical system memory and virtual memory. Or as Murphy concludes, frequently closing apps for no reason may actually slow down your device.

    Just to clarify, Murphy asked Lockheimer if it was better to just leave everything open (assuming an app hadn't crashed). The Android expert said the system was designed to manage running apps so you don't have to and that yes, it's better in general to let the system do its job.

    Does the same hold true for iOS? Here's what Apple's head of software, Craig Federighi, had to say on the matter.

    A 9to5Mac reader recently e-mailed CEO Tim Cook, asking if he quit his iOS multitasking apps frequently and if it's necessary to help with battery life. Federighi replied to the message (the headers were verified, the publication says) and in short, he said "No and No."

    So there you have it. Unless you have an app that has crashed or is otherwise causing problems, there's no benefit (and maybe even some harm) to force-closing apps.

    Permalink to story.

  2. JB Hickok

    JB Hickok Banned Posts: 29

    When you shut the phone off to save battery, it automatically closes all apps first, so you have no choice in that case and that's the best way to save battery life.
  3. Darth Shiv

    Darth Shiv TS Evangelist Posts: 1,811   +472

    That's nice in theory but just like Superfetch, it doesn't work so well in practice. If they were correct, why does restarting my Android phone stop my battery being chewed up? It's either an application, application bug or a bug in the OS isn't it? I take a punt on closing applications hoping it is the former. If it is a bug in the OS, closing the apps has no effect so the next step of restarting the phone is where you go.
    Madmaxneo and BSim500 like this.
  4. Kibaruk

    Kibaruk TechSpot Paladin Posts: 3,285   +901

    Of course Darth, if you have a buggy app, it would be the bad coded app don't you think?

    For the most part, think of Android when you get a phone right off the box, it's awesome, it starts getting cluttered as you put games and what not in it. I've had 0 experience on iphones.
  5. BSim500

    BSim500 TS Evangelist Posts: 388   +661

    Um, Android apps are always crashing though. Read through reviews on the play store ("Since the updates my kindle app won't work", "Firefox needs to retain tabs after a crash"), etc...
    Darth Shiv likes this.
  6. hahahanoobs

    hahahanoobs TS Evangelist Posts: 2,040   +678

    -Note 2
    -Bought used off kijiji
    -Had it over a year
    -65 apps installed
    -Don't constantly close apps
    -No power saving apps installed
    -Brightness set to 0 when inside, Auto when outside
    -Only turn data on when I NEED it/wifi always on when home
    -Battery still EASILY lasts all day with anything less than heavy usage (mainly video)

    Oddly, Samsung says to close all apps when charging. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't, and haven't noticed a difference. Only thing I know that quickly drains my battery is Google Now and Google Maps if it's running as a system app.

    TL;DR, battery life will depend on many, many, many, many, many things, and thinking if you just close apps that it will make a noticeable difference, then you're just being - silly. If it did work, we'd all be calling BS every time this topic comes up.
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2016
    p51d007 likes this.
  7. p51d007

    p51d007 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,304   +648

    I run 6-8 apps daily, tons of web (work app is web based), photos, text, email and I never close all my apps, but, I have a 4,050mAH battery so I don't worry about it. Even with 1500-2000 minutes per month on the phone, it easily gets through 2-3 days.
  8. JB Hickok

    JB Hickok Banned Posts: 29

    Hardware people say the problem is in software and software guys say it's in the hardware, surprising isn't it?
    BSim500 likes this.
  9. Darth Shiv

    Darth Shiv TS Evangelist Posts: 1,811   +472

    Exactly! The whole premise is based off that. If this is the reality of ground zero, then their assumptions all go out of the window and their recommendation is worthless.

    So the true answer is "Yes closing your apps improves battery life because apps are almost certainly buggy".
    BSim500 likes this.
  10. infiltrator

    infiltrator TS Booster Posts: 164   +27

    Wouldn't leaving the applications running on the background, consume more RAM and consequently slow down your device?
  11. Experimentongod

    Experimentongod TS Maniac Posts: 268   +110

    All I can say is that after several weeks of uptime, my Android phone's battery usage starts rising up to a point that it lasts about 1/3 of its normal duration and the fix is to reboot the phone.
  12. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 9,715   +3,693

    I will open applications as I use them. I will not keep applications in memory, for the off chance I will use them sometime this month.
  13. tomkaten

    tomkaten TS Maniac Posts: 222   +143

    I get much better battery life closing everything with Greenify and not letting apps autostart in the background, in both custom ROMs and my phone's factory ROM.
    So allow me to take the experts' advice about Android's app managing prowess with a grain of salt :)
    BSim500 and cliffordcooley like this.
  14. Lurker101

    Lurker101 TS Evangelist Posts: 819   +343

    Instead of talking to a man with a vested interest in the positive reporting of a brand, why not find someone with the resources to do a controlled experiment. Take a sample of phones of the same make with the same OS, have one set with a bunch of apps open and one set with no apps open and wait to see which does better in terms of battery life. It may be more boring than talking to the SVP of a company, but at least there's less chance of the phones lying to make their brand look good.
    learninmypc, Phr3d and SalaSSin like this.
  15. Badvok

    Badvok TS Addict Posts: 173   +64

    But which one? There is bound to be at least one. Probably better to get in the habit of closing apps just to make sure you get the right one.
    Either that or spend days experimenting to figure it out just for yet-another-update to change the situation and you have to start all over again.
    cliffordcooley likes this.
  16. Badelhas

    Badelhas TS Booster Posts: 74   +26

    I dont know about battery life but what I do notice is that closing everything makes my HTC M8 smoother afterwards, even on Android 6.0 Marshmallow
  17. w8676

    w8676 TS Rookie

    Yeah, I agree with Lurker101, biased sources. In my experience, there's often some app or another that wants to work more in the background than I like, or wake-locks or just wakes too often, and consequently Greenify is the difference between needing to recharge when I get home from work to being able to just plug in at bed time. I don't feel I have any non-mainstream apps most people don't have as well, except I've replaced Facebook's apps with Metal (a wrapper for the FB mobile website), also to the benefit of improved battery life.

    It's a sad state of tech "journalism" that these talking points get so often repeated from companies at different tech sites, but almost no one ever investigates themselves.
  18. Kibaruk

    Kibaruk TechSpot Paladin Posts: 3,285   +901

    If you already have it figured out (Which shouldn't be that hard as long as you don't have more things that you actually use... I know sounds easier said than done but it's acchievable), when an update comes you would already know the update is at fault, you don't have to start all over again.

    Best thing to do is factory reset, install only what you use and voila, happy phone happy user, if you are adventurous and know how to root (or want to root) install titanium backup and uninstall any/every bloatware you see around.
  19. MilwaukeeMike

    MilwaukeeMike TS Evangelist Posts: 2,887   +1,223

    You can have apps that completely drain your battery very quickly. This can happen when you're in a store or someplace where your signal is weak and the app is trying to sync. The app I use for my work email does this sometimes. You can tell by going to your settings under Battery and looking at Battery Usage. If you see an app near the top that shouldn't be there (If you've been playing Angry Birds all day - don't be surprised to see it near the top) then you know to close it.

    You'll also notice your phone might be warmer than normal - that's a good sign to turn off your wifi/data if you're indoors somewhere with a poor signal.
    Darth Shiv likes this.
  20. thedefect

    thedefect TS Rookie

    I can't speak for recent versions of Android, but a few years ago this was NOT the case. Android used to be a mess of poor resource management, though, and I've been told this has improved dramatically over the years. Just a few years back it was a nightmare OS, and background apps would completely drain your battery if you didn't keep closing them after you exited.
  21. Madmaxneo

    Madmaxneo TS Enthusiast Posts: 30

    I have to that there are some apps that do drain battery life if you leave them running. For example Candy Crush and the other games from the same company. After I get done playing a game if I do not shut it down my battery drains about twice as fast if not faster and my phone starts to get hot. It may have something to do with the app constantly searching for a connection of some sort. I work in a building that severely interferes with 4g and wifi. So I have to disagree with the statement of the article and the fact of it makes me think that this is funded by the developers to get people not to close apps......
  22. Jibberish18

    Jibberish18 TS Evangelist Posts: 646   +89

    I have a bad habit of closing my apps on my Android phone even though I know I probably shouldn't. The only time I never touched that stuff (really because I couldn't) was when I had Windows Phone 7.
  23. Badvok

    Badvok TS Addict Posts: 173   +64

    ROFL, I'm guessing you are not actually someone who uses your device for anything other than calls and texts. If an app is draining battery then it is probably one that was actually used? And an update (which come in flocks like carrion crows, seldom installed one at a time) is likely to be for a different app than the one that was previously causing an issue.
  24. Kibaruk

    Kibaruk TechSpot Paladin Posts: 3,285   +901

    You are kind of funny, thinking that apps that you don't click they are not running services and stuff hehe. These are exactly the ones that drain your battery.
  25. Badvok

    Badvok TS Addict Posts: 173   +64

    Of course services can be an issue but I'm pretty sure this article just happens to be about closing apps rather than shutting down services (can you even do that on iOS?).

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